English and drama

Capital Culture: Money, Commerce and Writing

Module code: Q3185
Level 6
30 credits in spring teaching
Teaching method: Workshop, Seminar
Assessment modes: Dissertation

This module offers you the opportunity to explore the interconnections between literature and commercial capitalism in a wide variety of literary and other texts drawn largely, but not exclusively, from the period 1710-1820, which saw the rise of modern capitalism. The module traces the responses of writers to the emergence of modern commercial society including the celebration of trade and empire, concerns about social change, the representation of labour and the critique of capitalism from Romantic poets and other writers. Topics addressed include the commodity and the fetish; property and the 'it-narrative'; labour, literary labour, and idleness; slavery; sex and money; consumption and consumerism; the role of art and the artist in commercial society; and different ideas of value (economic and aesthetic). Texts studied will include visual art, alongside novels, poetry, short stories, autobiography, journalism, essays and economic writings. Short extracts from the works of Adam Smith and Karl Marx will provide theoretical perspectives.

Module learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate good comprehension of a range of writing from the module.
  • Understand the interconnections between such texts and key themes addressed by the module.
  • Identify a particular topic relating to module content, together with suitable texts, suitable for sustained investigation and analysis.
  • Work independently to research his or her chosen topic, including in primary texts and relevant secondary criticism.
  • Produce a long essay on his/her chosen topic, of a good scholarly standard, and presented in accordance with the usual academic conventions.